The Plague of Independent Publishers

An insightful post about researching publishing companies before signing a contract. Make sure you do your homework instead of just being excited that someone accepted your work. Being poorly published is worse than not being published at all.

All I Have to Say

Today, we’re going to talk about the plague of independent publishers. There are more small presses than any of us could possibly count. They pop up seemingly overnight, publish ten or two-hundred books or so, and then vanish, often leaving bewildered authors to pick up the pieces of their publishing careers. Though there are vanity presses and scammers intent on defrauding authors, there are many small publishers who started their company with the very best of intentions.

I’d like to believe that most small presses set up shop with the intent to help authors and perhaps make a bit of money in the process. I’d like to hope these well-meaning entrepreneurs have a solid business plan, a proven marketing model, and good financial backing before they undertake such a venture. I’d like to hope the publishing company and their authors will thrive, eventually growing the business and becoming successful, respected…

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Pushing the publish button

Yawatta would like to welcome her special guest Danielle Uidam…

I just did it. I pushed the button. My book, The Malthus Conspiracy, is now being sold online through Amazon  http://amzn.com/B00B3SV3RWBook Cover7

After numerous edits, rewrites and what if’s I took the leap, I am now a published author!!! Yay!!! 120,000 words, a book cover, and the formatting. Done!  I allow myself a day or two of pride, before realising, that pushing that button was only the beginning.

Now new nerves are creeping in. Will my book sell? Will anyone like it? Review it? Recommend it? The questions have started as well… how do I market my book? Do I pay to enter competitions? Do I buy ads? How does this all work?

I hit the kindle community, they are a wealth of information, I can’t believe how helpful and kind their responses are. My head starts to grasp the enormity of the task ahead for an unknown author.

The Marketing starts.

I update my status on facebook, maybe some friends will buy a copy?

I set up a Facebook page for people to like, (facebook.com/themalthusconspiracy)

I start a blog (http://duidam.wordpress.com)

I set up a twitter account (@duidam)

I seek out reviews

What’s next on this thrilling self-publishing journey remains unseen – fingers crossed some books start to sell, and I start to climb the Amazon rankings. All you authors out there with suggestions, tips and feedback for new authors please leave some comments!

Now for some info on my book:

In 1798 Economist Reverend Thomas Malthus thought not. His work ‘An Essay on the Principal of Population’ predicted that population growth would outpace our ability to obtain resources, resulting in a global epidemic of famine that would destroy society unless curbed.

Fast forward to 2012. College students Dean Adams and his best friend Felix Pye, unwittingly stumble across the greatest conspiracy in history, and by doing so sign a death warrant. They are forced to run as powerful, high society members of a 200 year old secret Malthusian League attempt to silence them.

The league will stop at nothing to continue its Malthusian cause. Their purpose? To curb population growth and ensure Malthus’ predictions for economic ruin do not come true.

With the aide of detective Isabella Mercena, Dean and Felix go head to head against the evil forces as they attempt to expose the league’s sinister plans to control population. Will they survive to tell the tale and tell it before the next wave of disaster is unleashed on mankind?

The Malthus Conspiracy although a novel, is meant to result in reflection and discussion amongst readers. Is our population growth sustainable? Should population control be implemented? What are the issues highlighted by our large population?

At the back of the book is some factual essays, graphs, pictures and references to start readers on a questioning process.

I hope you all enjoy.

Danielle Uidam

The Malthus Conspiracy

http://amzn.com/B00B3SV3RW

Book Cover7

Guest Blogger: Sharon C. Cooper – When Dreams Meet Reality

When I grow up, I’m going to be a lawyer, a rock star, or marry Denzel Washington…well, if he weren’t already married. Have you ever had a dream to come true, but then reality hits? Such as, you became a lawyer but now you’re working 60-80 hour weeks and don’t have time to spend the money you’re making. Or maybe you’re a rock star, you have more groupies than you know what to do with and you’ve traveled the world – twice, but now you have no privacy and can’t even walk into your neighbor coffee shop without being hounded for your autograph.

Well, my dreams meet reality story is a little different. I am now a multi-published author (woo hoo!), but my reality – marketing my books. I know, I know, you’re wondering how I can compare that to the dream of being a lawyer or a rock star, well it’s not so much about the dream as it is about what happens when you acquire the dream and reality sets in.

First, can I just say, never in a million years would I have guessed that I’d be doing a post about marketing your book. Despite having a degree in business, I’ve come to realize that one aspect of business that I dislike more than anything – is marketing. And the fact that I’m an author hasn’t changed that, but it has made me realize that being published (especially if you’re an indie author) is like running your own business – you’re in charge…of everything.

But whether you’re an indie author (like I am) or if you’ve been published by a traditional publisher, it’s up to you to promote your book. Gone are the days of getting a contract with a major publishing house and they do everything for you – such as: setting up book signings, creating promotional materials, and marketing your work. You now have to do most of it yourself…and if you’re an indie author, you have to do all of it yourself.

Below are a few things I’ve learned about marketing since becoming published (and a few things I knew prior to getting published):

  • It’s all about building relationships – If you’re like many writers, you’re perfectly happy at home with your laptop, hanging out with your imaginary friends (the characters you’ve created), than you are being out in public building relationships. Don’t wait until your book has been published before you build a following (readers). Start  blogging, join social media sites (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on), and even consider joining some writing organizations. Note: when you join these sites, don’t make it all about you. Be engaging, listen to what others are doing, and talk about things your new friends/readers want to talk about or are interested in (now this doesn’t come easy for those of us who prefer to hang out with our laptop and characters). Being published is exciting! Having readers who enjoy and look forward to your books is…priceless! Here’s a quote by Anthony Robbins – “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” And in my own words – “The      quality of your published life is dependent upon the relationships you’ve built with your readers.”
  • Find a guru – If marketing is not your strength (or you absolutely hate it), find someone to do the work for you. But, if you’re like many indie      authors – you don’t have the extra money to pay someone to do your marketing. That’s when you have to do like the rest of us – research (Google,      read how-to-books), network with those who enjoy marketing, and if none of that works – beg other published authors for information on how they  market their work (most are willing to share ideas).
  • Know what the market wants – Now this is taught in Business 101. If you write a book about the proper technique of nose picking, most people aren’t going to be interested (although there might be a few interested folks). But say you write a book about how to meet Mr. Right with only a smile – you’ll probably get some takers. If nothing else, they’ll be very curious about what you have to say. Find out what people are reading and what they enjoy reading and write your book!
  • Don’t stop! – Don’t stop at one book. If you’ve built a readership, and have written some great books – people are going to want more. Have you ever read a good book by an author, and then went in search of what else they’ve written – only to find out they only have one book and no promises of another book on the way? Kinda disappointing huh? Don’t let this be you. Keep writing and keep putting your books out there!
  • And my last thought about marketing your books (especially if you’re an indie author), grab hold of every opportunity to promote your work…especially when someone is kind enough to let you guest post on their blog! Below is my debut novel.

A Sweet Romance

Entrepreneur, Simone Edwards, did what any intelligent woman with a ticking biological clock would do: she asked her longtime boyfriend to marry her. Devastated when he turns her down, and fed up with dead-end relationships, Simone swears off men … and takes a vow of celibacy. How hard could it be? She soon learns it’s harder than she thinks when the most irresistible man in the world, Tim Hollister, shows up at her job. She hasn’t seen him in over ten years, and quickly realizes he is a temptation she doesn’t want to resist. But isn’t there some rule about dating your friend? Simone must decide if a romance with Tim is worth risking their friendship and her reclaimed virginity.

 
Betrayed by his supermodel ex-girlfriend, who happens to be the mother of his child, Tim Hollister has placed a padlock on his heart. But when Simone, an old high school friend falls back into his life, he soon forgets his promise to stay clear of beautiful women. Simone was always like a sister to him, but he discovers that his feelings for her aren’t very brotherly. He’s captivated by the woman she’s become and wants to take their friendship to the next level – despite her resistance. Tim can’t avoid their new-found passion, and sets out to prove he’s the man for her.
Available Now at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and All Romance e-books!

Click here to read an excerpt and to purchase your copy today!

Many thanks Yawatta!

To contact Sharon C. Cooper  visit her at:

Website: http://sharoncooper.net

Subscribe to her blog: http://sharonccooper.wordpress.com/

Email: sharon@sharoncooper.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1575943684&ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Sharon_Cooper1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5823574.Sharon_C_Cooper

So You Think You Can Write, But Are You An Author?

When people hear I’m a writer, I typically get three responses:

1.  The Change Subject Approach

Me:  “Hi, I love to write, mostly short stories. Been dabbling with novels too.”

Them:  “So how about them Yankees?”

They immediately talk about something else without even acknowledging what I said as though I’ll become annoying and pushy, trying to sell my book. It’s usually fun to see what lengths some people go to avoid the issue. The next time I see them I make sure never to bring the topic up again.

2.  The Supportive Approach

Me:  “Hi, I love to write, mostly short stories. Been dabbling with novels too.”

Them:  “Oh that’s so cool. I’ve always been impressed with someone who can write a novel. How do you do it?”

They say cool beans and ask if my book is out, so they can buy it. They excitedly ask me questions about the writing process and later reveal they always wanted to write a novel too. This is my favorite type of person to meet 🙂 I usually give them writing tips if they ask, encouraging them to write–even if start out small with flash fiction or a short story, its a huge accomplishment. The next time they meet me, they talk about writing again (like their favorite books, quotes, authors). I feel comfortable enough to give them my business card without feeling like a pompous ass hee hee.

3.  The Annoying “I-I-I-I” Approach

Me:  “Hi, I love to write, mostly short stories. Been dabbling with novels too.”

Them:  “I’ve published yadda yadda; my influences and inspiration are yadda yadda….”

Once they hear me, they don’t ask any questions about my writing style, influences, type of genres I’m interested in. They automatically focus all their attention on themselves where the conversation turns into “I-I-I-I”. Did I mention “I-I-I-I?” Because if I did, I didn’t express it enough.

They talk about how they wrote this, published that, their influences, yadda yadda yadda. Then they proceed to tell me how the publishing industry works based off the vanity press they use, which is TYPICALLY WRONG INFO. But no, can’t tell them that. Whenever I bring up how Createspace, Lulu, and Smashwords allows you to self-publish for free, I get shot down like I’m an idiot. They end up demeaning my accomplishments because–gasp–I’m not published yet. They act like its a race.

And to add to the annoying factor, at the end of the conversation, they tell me–not ask–to buy their book(s), usually at authorhouse.com. The next time I see them, I regret ever telling them I was a writer hee hee. They ask if I brought their book(s) yet then proceed to scold me if I say no. Once again, I get the pleasure of hearing wrong facts about the publishing industry. Since they speak at me (instead of to me), I’m in the clear to stare at them but daydream. Since they don’t care what I have to add to the conversation, I don’t have to come up with something to say on the spot when I see their lips stop moving. I don’t have to pretend like I was listening beyond the 45 minute lecture.

——

Soon, I hope to express that I’m an author. Maybe the responses will be the same, maybe not. I can’t wait to find out. I already made up my mind that I will publish on Amazon and/or Createspace. I keep debating whether I want to just do ebooks or in-print as well. Leaning more towards just ebooks, but we’ll see. That’s why I want to do things right by getting critique partners and beta-readers’ opinions, then hiring an editor. This takes time, but it’ll be worthwhile when i hit the “submit” or “publish” button.

Being a realist, I don’t have dreams of becoming famous. I know I’ll still have to keep my day job (unfortunately hee hee). But if I can get at least one person to say they enjoy my books, then I’ll be happy.

And, I’m not going the self-publishing route because I’m scared of rejection. Quite the opposite. I’m an impatient person and don’t believe in waiting months to years before hearing if your submission was accepted or rejected. If accepted, have to wait a year to appear on bookshelves–will be taken down if don’t make the best-seller list within six months.

With an e-book or print-on-demand, your novel or short story lasts forever unless you take it down. That way if it takes years to build a fan-base, you have time without feeling like a failure. I’ve done the research. I know most authors don’t get recognized until their third or fourth book. You have to promote and market yourself. Finally my marketing, accounting, business background will come in handy 🙂

I’m making a pledge right now. You can’t see me, but I’m raising my right hand. When my books come out:

  • I promise not to spam messageboards or any other social media.
  • I promise not to beg my friends or acquaintances to buy my book. I won’t constantly bring the topic up to the point you’ll avoid me at all costs.
  • I swear not to use the “I-I-I-I” marketing method.

I mentioned earlier that I’m not scared of rejection. Well, I submitted a short story to the Shepherd University writing contest. I received an email recently that I wasn’t a finalist. I’m still proud of myself for putting my work out there. That’s a step to becoming a successful writer. I’ll admit I was bummed for a nanosecond, but then I noticed a request to edit my work and submit to their anthology–all was right in the world again.

Since I have a vigilant personality style, I’m always researching to make sure I don’t get scammed. I didn’t find anything suspicious on absolute write, or any of the other warning websites. The only thing I noticed was the Anthology of Appalachian Writers doesn’t sell on Amazon. People can only buy it from the university’s bookstore. If I get into this collection, then college students can read a story of mine. It’d be cool to say I published with a short story. Duotrope is an awesome website that shows publications looking for submissions, whether they pay or not, and submission requirements.

My philosophy is start small, have realistic expectations, and work your way up to the top.

Before I can say I’m a published author,  I’ll have to keep enduring the question “Are you published yet?” Monica wrote a funny post Ten Replies For People Who Ask If You’re Published. I think I’ll use #4 “I’m trying to remain neutral in the publishing war by keeping my books out of circulation. And, #5 “Amazon begged me to de-list my titles–my royalites almost bankrupted them.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Critiques That Rip: Why Criticism Trumps Praise

Yawatta would like to invite MONICA SHAUGHNESSY as a guest. She has a very entertaining post to share about how to interpret constructive criticism from critique groups/partners. Her blog is http://monicashaughnessy.wordpress.com if anyone would like to check her out. Thanks again Monica!

Quick, what’s the worst thing you can hear during a critique?

“Your dialogue reads like an Xtranormal video on horse tranquilizers.”

Nope.

“Your plot has more holes than Homer Simpson’s underwear.”

Try again.

“I couldn’t find anything wrong. I liked it.”

Bingo.

Now don’t get me wrong. Hearing that someone else likes your work can be a real ego booster. And at times, we writers need some of the good stuff to keep us going in a rejection-happy industry bent on destroying our optimism. Trouble is, if you keep hearing “I liked it” too often from fellow critiquers, you’re 1) in the wrong group or 2) in the right group, but everyone knows you’ll key their car on the way out if they tank your story. Either way, seek help immediately.

If, however, you ARE hearing things from your early readers, and you’re choosing to ignore them, then do so at your own publishing peril. I’ve been in many, many different critique groups over the years, both through SCBWI and through online classes, and those resistant to criticism are usually one of the following writers:

  • Shrinking Violet: Attends group once and only once, having relied on Grandma (without her reading glasses) and her cat, Mr. Snickles (with his reading glasses), to review her work in the past. Any negative comments will cause her to wither, abandon her literary pursuits, and take up knitting cat hair ponchos instead.
  • Blustery Gus: Attends group regularly and loves to hear his words read aloud. During comments, he lets rebuttals fly, fiercly defending his work, justifying each over-used comma and cliche, even if he suspects everyone else is right. Why? Because he CAN’T be wrong. Everything he writes is worthy of being cross-stitched in gold letters across Larry Kirshbaum’s pillow.
  • Inspector Clueless: Attends group, usually sporadically, because that’s what Real Writers do. He nods when people comment on his manuscript, but returns next week with the same glaring mistakes. He doesn’t understand the fuss over sagging tension and drifting POV’s. Further, he doesn’t understand how to FIX sagging tension and drifting POV’s.

Bottom line: if you see yourself (even marginally) in any of the categories above, you’ve got some work to do.

Angry car keyers aside, the rest of us should seek out what needs improving so we can get better–even if it’s painful. When we get better, guess what? We still have room for improvement. Hemingway rewrote the final page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times to “get the words right.” How do you know when the words are right? If after your critique group has raked it over the coals, your beta readers have kicked it through the dirt, and you’ve word-smithed it for the tenth or twentieth or fortieth time, and there’s not ONE THING you would change, then you can stop.

Until then, ears open to criticism and fingers on the keyboard.

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What do YOU think? Are you in a critique group? If so, what’s been your experience with criticism? Has it help you or hurt you?

Monica Shaughnessy